Born out of exasperation at the slow pace of international progress on climate change, the French-based group CliMates provides participation and training to young people who want to help push forward for solutions.
This Friday, August 29th concluded the Second CliMates International Summit, hosted at Columbia University. Organized by volunteers and peer leaders, this gathering of students and young professionals from over 15 nations focused on building skills and training attendees to discuss the impacts of climate change in various sectors. Their mission is to inspire and empower youth all around the world to find answers together.
Co-founder Margot Le Guen shared how the network has evolved since 2011 from a “group of peers at Science Po, in France, where we were reaching out to our friends to join to what is now a group of over 150 actively involved.”
Last year, CliMates held a Latin American-focused gathering in Bogota, Columbia. This year’s events took the form of a ‘summer school’ in New York City, where participants attended seminars and engaged in discussions on everything from entrepreneurship for social innovation, to crafting performance art, to the impacts of heat on health. A special discussion lead by Ahmad Alhendawi, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, emphasized the need to think about what motivates potential partners to engage. The team also met with French climate diplomat Adrien Pinelli, who spoke about the role of youth engagement in the upcoming COP 21 conference held in Paris in 2015.
I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel about climate and health with Kim Knowlton, Senior Scientist, Health & Environment Program and Co-Deputy Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Dr. Knowlton and I presented on how rising temperatures will impact poorest populations most dramatically and explored economic and social solutions for prevention.
The overall tone of the summit was one of excitement and collaboration. Attendees shared ideas for research collaboration, expanding partnerships and planning for next year, when the summit will be held in France, gearing up for the world’s critical test: the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. The announced aims of the 2015 UN conference are nothing less than a binding, worldwide agreement to limit greenhouse gases.
In the next month, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon will host a prelude to the 2015 conference, at the United Nations in New York City on September 23rd. This preliminary meeting of world leaders is the focus of the People’s Climate March, scheduled for September 21st, which is drawing an increasing amount of media and institutional attention.
For more information on CliMates and their social media presence, follow them on Twitter and see their YouTube channel. Below, watch Austin Morton of the New Climate Economy project in his video for the CliMates summit.